Breitbart Editor Reportedly Told Staffers To Stop Tweeting About Michelle Fields; UPDATE: Two More Staffers Leave

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Mar 14, 2016 3:40 PM
Breitbart Editor Reportedly Told Staffers To Stop Tweeting About Michelle Fields; UPDATE: Two More Staffers Leave

As Katie wrote, Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields and editor-at-large Ben Shapiro resigned from the news organization in the early morning hours, which added an extra chapter in this fiasco between the Trump campaign, Breitbart, and apparently Breitbart’s editors and writers.

Over the weekend, Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray and McKay Coppins obtained copies of the Slack chats from the new organization, where editor Joel Pollak was instructing staffers not to tweet or speculate about the ongoing situation with Fields:

“STOP tweeting about the story. Stop speculating about the story,” Pollak told staffers in one message, and reminded them that “you were given explicit instructions.”

“You may wish to defend your colleague, and that is commendable — but keep in mind that when you do so, you are also putting other colleagues under direct public pressure, so you are actually hurting some to help another,” Pollak said in one of the chats. “That is why we have to be patient, and coordinate our responses.”

When staffer Brandon Darby wrote that Lewandowski’s behavior was “a declaration of war” and “silence is abandoning our team member,” Pollak responded, “In war, we wait for orders that are based on a careful plan. So wait.”

Other interactions between Breitbart’s National Security Editor Frances Martel, Breitbart Texas’ managing editor Brandon Darby, and National Security Correspondent Justin Schachtel express either frustration or disappointment with how the company responded to the Fields/Lewandowski encounter. Townhall is hearing from a source that executive chairman of Breitbart News Stephen Bannon has been instructing Pollak to keep tight control of the messaging.

“We can’t RT @Michellefields or the Trump statement?” asks Martel, which Pollak responds by saying, “no, we cannot.”

“Damn, sad all around guys; I get why we shouldn’t engage the Trump folks but supporting our sister in arms [Fields] seems a no-brainer,” added Martel, which drew and enthusiastic “YES!” from Schachtel.

Pollak then says, “it’s not about supporting or not supporting” after which he gives direct instructions for anyone within the Breitbart orbit that “this is the kind of problem that requires a coordinated response, which management has provided. We have asked the campaign for an apology, and we put Michelle’s statement up.”

Pollak then seems to address Darby and Schachtel directly, warning them not to go off on their own tangents on this event, and that they’re standing by Fields. He later says that the reason for these protocols concerning messaging is that “even a supportive statement, other than RT’ing Michelle’s own statement on the Breitbart site, can (and likely will) be interpreted to hurt us.”

Following Fields and Shapiro’s exit, two more Breitbart staffers resigned. In a statement obtained by Politico’s Hadas Gold today, Schachtel and associate editor Jarrett Stepman announced that they had exited the organization, reiterating similar sentiments made by Shapiro about how the site has veered far from conservative principles.

In his remarks, Schachtel said:

“The company no longer resembles the ideals that inspired me to start writing for them three years ago. Some of us have been fighting behind the scenes against the party-line Trump propaganda for some time, but without any success, unfortunately. Breitbart News is no longer a journalistic enterprise, but instead, in my opinion, something resembling an unaffiliated media Super PAC for the Trump campaign. I signed my contract to work as a journalist, not as a member of the Donald J. Trump for President media network.

Stepman added, “I believe Breitbart News is becoming less of a news site and more of a propaganda organization dedicated to the Trump campaign. Breitbart News has also now openly embraced the ‘Nationalist/Populist’ viewpoint, which is in direct opposition to limited-government conservatism that channels the philosophy of the Founding Fathers.”

Shapiro torched the organization upon his departure, saying "Andrew [Breitbart]’s life mission has been betrayed. Indeed, Breitbart News, under the chairmanship of Steve Bannon, has put a stake through the heart of Andrew’s legacy."

Fields filed battery charges against Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who she says grabbed her arm in a manner that almost forced her to the ground; she was bruised as a result. Washington Post reporter Ben Terris witnessed the incident and included it in his article about Trump’s inner circle for his publication.

Fields, Schachtel, Shapiro, and Stepman also join Kurt Bardella, a former spokesman for the website, who also resigned last Friday over the organization's apparent lackluster support for their reporter.

So, will we see any more departures from Breitbart in the coming days?

Editor's Note: In the original post, Justin Schachtel's name was misspelled. We've fixed that error. The post has been updated to reflect the changes.